Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels Schooling has changed a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote learning is more common. Where students have returned to classrooms, they and their teachers must deal with physical re-arrangements. One thing, though, remains the same. Education costs continue to climb. That's particularly true for college expenses. But there is a popular way to save for your youngsters' secondly educations and get a potential tax break, too. As long as you act quickly. When you contribute to a child's 529 plan, many states allow you to claim a state tax deduction. And in many states,... Read more →


Thirsty New Yorkers celebrate Prohibition Repeal Day at a local, again legal, bar. Image from Las Vegas' National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, more popularly known as The Mob Museum, blog post on how Prohibition changed beer. Today's a big day for tax geeks and craft beer aficionados, as well as for lovers of fine (or cheaper; no judging here) wines and liquors. On Dec. 5, 1933, Prohibition ended with the passage of the 23rd amendment to the U.S. constitution. Whenever last century's 13-year booze ban is discussed, the focus naturally tends to be on the alcohol component.... Read more →


If you think online crooks are just going after big businesses, think again. Smaller firms are prime cyberattack targets. Go big or go home, unless you're a cybercriminal targeting businesses. More than 70 percent of cyberattacks are aimed at companies with 100 or fewer employees. That revelation is from the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners as this year's National Tax Security Awareness Week was winding down. It's also this weekend's By the Numbers figure. In going after smaller business, con artists target credit card or payment information, the business identity information, or data on employees. "Thieves may... Read more →


The United States has a voluntary compliance tax system. Uncle Sam trusts all of us to follow the tax laws and file and pay any amounts that are due the U.S. Treasury. But Uncle Sam is no fool when it comes to taxes. He also has a system of penalties to encourage or, if we refuse, punish us for not fulfilling our tax responsibilities on our own. The most severe are criminal prosecutions. The Internal Revenue Service also employs civil actions to get taxes due. Most of us, though, are more familiar with the fines and fees that are assessed... Read more →


Gift cards make great presents for family and friends, but they cannot be used to pay taxes. (Gift card wreath via Pinterest) We all have people on our holiday gift lists who are hard — OK, impossible — to shop for. When I struggle to find the perfect gift, I follow my personal credo: Say it with cash. Or, more often, with plastic. Yes, I give gift cards. And if family and friends are reading this, I am happy to get them. But one place where gift cards aren't welcome is the Internal Revenue Service. This IRS is making a... Read more →


A close-up of some of our Christmas tree ornaments, including the newest one showcasing Austin icon El Arroyo's sign wisdom. (Photo by Kay Bell) Ho, Ho, Ho! The jolly month of December is here, bringing the official start of winter, Christmas and other holidays, and taxes. Yeah, that last December item might harsh your holidays. But the tax moves you make over the next 31 days could make your 2021 and 2022 tax situations happy and bright. Here's a look at 6 December tax moves you at least want to consider. 1. Keep an eye on Congress. Yeah, too often... Read more →


Click image to see loop from KLIX of Hurricane Ida's landfall. Today is not only the last day of November, it is the official end of this year's Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. Although I no longer live very near a coastline, tropical systems do a whole lot of damage beyond their landfalls. We've endured the effects of Tropical Storm Hermine in 2010 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017 (what is it with H storms and Austin?) that hit the Texas coast. This year the Lone Star state escaped Hurricane Ida. She stayed east of us and definitely did a lot... Read more →


Photo: JHL via Flickr The last couple of years have been challenging for U.S. citizens living and working abroad. The COVID-19 era for expatriates has meant they've had to deal with changing demands from their American-based employers along with the health rules of the nation where they live. One thing, however, has remained the same. Most Americans who go abroad for work still must deal with the Internal Revenue Service. They owe U.S. taxes on their income, regardless of where it's earned, because Uncle Sam still relies on a worldwide tax system at the individual level. There are, however, some... Read more →


This lord a-leaping and his nine other colleagues will cost you a hefty sum this year if you give them and the 11 other gifts inspired by the "12 Days of Christmas" carol to your true love. (Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels) Did you survive Black Friday shopping? More to the point, did your bank account survive? The crowds this year apparently were smaller, but the freedom to shop in real life didn't offer as many savings. Plus, there was inflation. As everyone knows by now, prices have been rising. That definitely is true for the annual PNC Financial... Read more →


Do you need to tweak the Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) amount you've been receiving? You can adjust December's final payment as long as you let the Internal Revenue Service know by Monday, Nov. 29. Specifically, you need to update your Child Tax Credit data at the agency's special online website by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Nov. 29. Last payment of 2021: The American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief measure that became law in March, bumped up the Child Tax Credit amount for the 2021 tax year. The law also instructed the IRS to issue half of the... Read more →


Single parenting can be challenging, especially at tax time and you and your ex-spouse are vying for the same child-related tax breaks. (Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels) For some, this Thanksgiving was quieter than normal. Their youngsters spent Turkey Day with their parent as part of the alternating holidays agreement reached in the divorce decree. Breaking up is always hard. It's also complicated when it involves lawyers, court hearings and the Internal Revenue Service. It's can get even more complex when children are involved. I'm not a lawyer. I don't play one on the ol' blog. And I don't... Read more →


Photo: Satya Murthy Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday obviously is about acknowledging all we have to be thankful for in the past year and beyond. It's best when spent with family and friends. And, of course, it's about eating! Turkey and dressing. Green bean casserole. Double-stuffed baked potatoes. Celery stalks overflowing with pimento cheese. Fruit salad. Pies. Lots of pies. That was what I grew up eating. We lived in the same West Texas town as grandparents, so the fourth Thursday of November definitely was a beloved routine. My Mom always helped out my Mam-ma, her mom, and on most occasions... Read more →


This Thanksgiving for the first time in months (or years) families will be getting together to share and make new memories. (Photo by Photo by cottonbro from Pexels) This Thanksgiving week, many of us are seeing family for the first time in months, if not years. (Thanks, no thanks, COVID-19.) If your family members include aging parents, in addition to lots of long hugs and catching up and crying, you probably should spend some time making sure they're doing OK when you're not around. If you do find Mom and Dad could use a little, or even a lot of... Read more →


A tax credit for dependents offers a break for older children, extended family members, and even non-relatives. Thanksgiving is the traditional time for families to gather. But not all families are traditional. That's evident in real and tax life. The family-friendly tax break that's been getting most attention of late is the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the advance payments for 2021 that are going out through December. I'm guilty, as a perusal of the ol' blog quickly shows. But some families aren't eligible for the CTC, either the money being distributed now or when they file their annual tax... Read more →


Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels Happy National Family Week! Yes, this is a real commemoration that officially kicked off on Sunday, Nov. 21. It runs through the 27th. The week was launched around a half-century ago by a couple Indianapolis public school staffers. Since the 1970s, U.S. presidents have acknowledged National Family Week. President Joe Biden's proclamation cites "the importance of spending time with relatives," which explains why the week that Americans celebrate Thanksgiving was selected for National Family Week. Biden's statement also noted the "commitment to investing in our Nation's families." Increased tax credit help for families:... Read more →


Image courtesy IRS It's Thanksgiving week! Nov. 25 is circled in green for go by families across the United States. They finally will see their COVID vaccinated families and friends in person for the first time in almost two years. But folks in parts of California and all of Mississippi need to mark another calendar date a bit farther down the road. Jan. 3, 2022, is the new 2020 tax year deadline for them. Yep, we're well past October's extended filing deadline and other Internal Revenue Service due dates, but the tax ramifications of major disasters continue to be felt.... Read more →


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels I know, it seems like it's all crypto all the time of late here at the ol' blog. But that's because that's what's happening right now in the tax world. There is, of course, the new tax reporting rules for digital assets, including cryptocurrency, that are part of the just-enacted transportation law. One of the reasons lawmakers approved the closer look by the Internal Revenue Service at digital transactions is because law enforcement officers have found the sector rife with criminal tax activity. It's not just anecdotal reports. OK, it is some anecdotal reports,... Read more →


Photo by Alesia Kozik from Pexels President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA) into law on Monday, Nov. 15. The new law, like prior transportation bills, does include plenty of traditional roads and bridges provisions. But it went decidedly digital to help cover some of its $1.2 trillion costs. The IIJA includes reporting requirements that mandate cryptocurrency exchanges share information with the Internal Revenue Service. The good news for crypto fans who are freaking out is that they have time to adjust. These reporting rules generally don't go into effect until 2023. Here are... Read more →


AMT law changes plus annual inflation adjustments mean that this parallel tax aimed at the wealthy is no longer such a broadly-based ATM for the tax collector. The political and legislative battle over how to collect from the wealthiest taxes, which was mentioned in yesterday's Part 6 tax inflation post on (among other things) estate taxes, is not new. It's been going on for decades. The Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT, is one way that Washington, D.C., came up with to ensure that the rich pay at least some taxes. This post, Part 7 of the ol' blog's 10-part inflation... Read more →


Current political talk (OK, fights) on Capitol Hill is full of discussions (OK, fights) over how and how much to tax the rich. The discussions (OK, fights) are driven by the fact that the tax code already is full of provisions that help the wealthiest among us stay that way. But some of the tax laws can help all of us, regardless of our income level, increase our relative wealth. And some of those Internal Tax Code components are adjusted each year for inflation. This Part 6 of the ol' blog's annual tax inflation series looks at how these annual... Read more →